Katie Byrnes was a generous and fun-loving girl with a big heart. The 18-year-old from Walkerston was doing what she loved when she died.
Katie Byrnes was a generous and fun-loving girl with a big heart. The 18-year-old from Walkerston was doing what she loved when she died. Contributed

Death shatters family

KATIE Byrnes had the ability to light up a room.

Her parents, brother and boyfriend described the teenager as a down to earth, big hearted and fun loving girl.

"If she walked into a room and there was no light, she'd put a spark in it," Debra Byrnes said.

The 18-year-old tragically died after a quad bike accident at Cape Palmerston on Saturday.

She would have been 19 on Australia Day.

"She was doing something that she loved when it happened," her older brother Sam Byrnes said.

"You see a lot of young ones get killed in car accidents.

"This was different. She was doing something she loved."

Katie had been camping with her boyfriend of three years, Phillip Petts, and his family.

"She was definitely in a spot that she loved... and was around people she loved as well," Sam, 20, said.

Mr Petts introduced Katie to quad biking, her father John said.

"She loved it from the start," Phillip, 19, said.

Katie would always look forward to going to (Cape Palmerston).

"She was a careful rider. She always made sure her safety gear was on," her brother said.

Walkerston born and bred, Katie was a former student of Mirani State High School, where she met Phillip.

"They were both very happy together," Mrs Byrnes said.

She was well respected and had a lot of friends in the area.

Her brother said Katie was the type of girl who'd go out of her way for anybody.

"She had a lot going for her," Sam said.

"You can't describe the anguish and grief we are in at the moment, we've been torn in half.

"It's hard. We're all grieving."

The devastating loss had brought the four of them closer as they turned to each other for support.

"It's going to be hard to move on," Sam said.

"The next few days are going to be hard... but we will get through this together."

Katie and her brother might have fought, as all siblings do, but the two, who were barely two years apart, shared a tight bond.

"I've lost my best friend," Sam said.

A Sunday tradition for the pair was a pub lunch with his friends.

Mrs Byrnes said Katie loved having her brother there.

Katie was right into ten pin bowling.

She even played in two national titles and never failed to rub it in her brother's face whenever she bested him at the game.

"She was all over me," Sam said.

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